Entering his junior season, Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. has stepped into a defined leadership role for the Jayhawks.
“He understands the big picture,” senior wide receiver Andrew Parchment said. “[He understands that] it’s not going to happen overnight and we’re about to keep working every single day.”
— Kansas Football (@KU_Football) September 26, 2020
After coming off a limited performance in week one due to injury, Williams split running back duties with sophomore Velton Gardner in week two. Against Baylor, the duo combined for 146 rushing yards on 28 carries (14 each). Williams ran for 76 yards individually.
Williams has also been seen at the receiver position in Kansas’ first two games. On Saturday, Williams hauled in three catches for 24 yards against the Bears.
Despite carrying the workload offensively thus far — Williams scored both of the Jayhawks’ touchdowns against the Bears — he said after the game he’s more than willing to spread the ball around in order to win.
“I’m a team player,” Williams said. “I want everyone on the field to eat.”
However, Kansas coach Les Miles said at a media availability Monday he would like to see Williams receive more touches in future games.
“We like some of the other options we have to get the ball to them, but keeping Pooka fresh is also a key piece,” Miles said.
That comes from a trust instilled in Williams by this Kansas coaching staff and his teammates.
“Off the field he’s been using more words letting [the team] know ‘Hey I know I’ve marched up on the field and you guys are looking for me to say stuff sometimes,’” senior offensive lineman Chris Hughes said. “So, he needs to step into that role and he’s been doing a really good job with that.”
Miles added that Williams is a special player with a natural-born talent to lead. Miles said a prime example of this happened after the game Saturday, when Williams looked over Miles’ shoulder as he was watching film on his computer.
“[Williams] talked about [freshman quarterback] Jalon Daniels, and he talked about the offensive line and how it was all going to come together,” Miles said. “In my opinion, he’s state of the art.”
Williams and the Jayhawks will face off against No. 17 Oklahoma State at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.